Where the streets have no names

I’ve been in Freetown for three weeks now and while the city is still an utterly chaotic place, I’ve really taken to it. Men and women ply the streets all hours of the day, selling anything they get their hands on. The smell of fried cassava, plaintains, chicken and fish permeates what is otherwise a mix of dust, rotting garbage and petrol fumes. Children weave between parked cars and the ubiquitous piles of steel and garbage, selling candies, fruit and bags of cold water to passerbyes. The governments policy of universal education has allowed most children to attend school but many more are too poor to afford the required uniforms, books and supplies. Most of the children who do attend school do so in shifts, spending their mornings in class and their afternoons on the dusty streets of Freetown trying to make enough money to purchase their next meal. Young men and women are largely in a similar situation. With few private sector jobs and few chances to attend post-secondary education, they take to the streets hoping to make a few dollars by selling second hand clothing, towels, etc. Life in Freetown is not easy. A large proportion survive on less than a dollar a day, enough to eat but nowhere near enough to escape from the cycle of poverty that grips this beautiful West African nation.